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Council okays ordinance curbing discrimination vs. health workers

A legislator has passed two ordinances imposing penalties on those who will defy the protocols and discriminate frontline workers during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Councilor Mabel Acosta, committee chair on peace and public safety, passed two ordinances under suspended rules on Wednesday, April 8.

The first ordinance is to institutionalize the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) policies under Executive No. 23 issued by the city government.

In her ordinance, Acosta said that this shall be imposed upon all person, entities, and establishments until the existing ECQ is lifted. “To further suppress the spread of COVID-19, stricter implementation of existing guidelines and health and security measures shall be conducted,” she said.

The ordinance covers all the implemented protocols in EO 23, which include food and medicine passes, land, sea and air travel, curfew hours, special curfew to vulnerable sectors, liquor ban, funerals, persons under monitoring (PUMs), persons under investigation (PUIs), disclosing of travel histories, and false information.

Failure to comply to these protocols will face a fine of 3,000 for the first offense and 5,000 and/or imprisonment of not more than one year at the discretion of the court for the second offense.

The second passed ordinance is an ordinance prohibiting any form of harassment, discrimination, prejudice, or inflicting any shame or humiliation against frontline workers, confirmed infected patients, PUMs/PUIs and close contacts during the state of a national health emergency.

“Incidents ranging from displacements of frontliners, patients, (and) suspected cases from their rented premises, dishonoring contractual obligations such as contracts of employments, refusal to provide basic services such as public transport to actual physical assaults and harassment have been threateningly prevalent,” Acosta explained.

She said this ordinance will protect those who were assaulted due to the stigma caused by COVID-19.

“As harassments and discriminations acted upon to health workers who are tirelessly working at the frontline and risking their own lives can lead to demoralization and post grave threats to their safety and security,” she said.

Guilty individuals will face a fine of P5,000 and/or imprisonment of not more than one year for each offense committed.

Disclosure of important data

On the same day, Majority Floor Leader Melchor Quitain also passed an ordinance penalizing people who lie about previous travels or contact with a COVID-19 patient.

“That is why I think the reason why we have some doctors and nurses who have become infected also is that some of the patients seeking treatment or admission do not divulge their true condition or symptoms that they have, therefore, compromising the life and limb of the health workers,” he said.

He said those who make false and untruthful statement and or withhold important information not limited to travel histories, experienced symptoms, medical condition and other important data will be penalized.

For this, a penalty of P5,000 will be charged to violators and/or imprisonment of 30 days.

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